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By Annette McLoughlin

Her long relationship with the Rye City School District begins at that point in a stay-at-home mom’s life when she has packed her youngest off to kindergarten and sits down to enjoy the exquisite silence. For Deb Antonecchia, that quiet was interrupted by the ring of the telephone.

The call was from her mother who rang her from Rye High School where she worked as secretary to the principal. “One of my mom’s clerical co-workers in the Middle School was ill and needed long-term coverage, so, of course, my mom volunteered me to fill in now that my children were in school,” recalled Antonecchia with a smile. “That was the beginning of my long and unexpected career with the Rye City School District.”

Two years after she began, her temporary position became a permanent appointment, as the secretary to the Director of Athletics at that time, Dr. Bernie Miller. After a few years in the Athletic Office, she moved into the office of the Dean of Students, along with Joe DeRuvo, who was being promoted after a long tenure of teaching at Osborn. It was in this position that she touched so many lives, for a total of almost three decades.

All who were lucky enough to work with her, describe her as kind, thoughtful, and compassionate. Rye Middle School Principal Dr. Ann Edwards, who knows her well, said she is the “ideal mix of professionalism and compassion. Debby is one of the most graceful women I have ever known. She is able to put aside whatever personal challenge she may be facing in order to help a middle school child open his or her locker or wait for a ‘meeting’ with the assistant principal.”

Antonecchia’s passion for her job, and most especially for her co-workers and the students, was evident in the way she approached every day and addressed every person. Asked about cherished memories of her time at RMS, she said, “I have struggled to come up with special memories, but to be very truthful, each and every one I have taken with me is special. I looked forward to going to work every single day. There was never one day in all those years that a child didn’t make me smile. Everyone should be as fortunate to have had a career that they love as much as I did.”

Math teacher Alex Tejera described the way she selflessly brought people under her wing and possessed innate grace. “From the time I arrived at Rye Middle School, Debby has been a second mother to me. She seems to know exactly the right thing to say and goes out of her way to help me and then follow up to make sure everything worked out.”

Science teacher Michele McRedmond recalled how compassionate and vital Antonecchia was in a very difficult time in her life. “She went above and beyond. In the last year and a half, my daughter suddenly lost her father and then I lost my sister. Honestly, I knew that no matter what, my classes and students would be taken care of because Debby would make sure of it...and she would find the time to check in on me.”

She was a fount of RMS information and everyone’s daily question-answerer and problem-solver. “Ask Deb”, according to many, may have been the most common phrase in the building these past decades.

Dr. Edwards praised Antonecchia for her levelheaded approach to the daily drama that is inevitable in a building full of adolescents. “Debby was able to remain calm in the sometimes chaotic world of the middle school. She knew how to cover classes, manipulate the schedule, and keep people happy with room assignments. 

English teacher Michael Massett added, “Debbie had her finger on the pulse of the middle school. She knew the ins and outs of how the school operated, treated the staff like family, and knew each and every child that went through the doors.”

Antonecchia shared that it has been “a joy to see generations of Rye students pass through the hallways during my tenure.”

A Garnet legacy and small town devotee, she basked in the personal connections and familial continuity of Rye. “My mother was a proud Rye High graduate, as were I and my siblings, and then my children. I have been delighted to see so many of these kids grow up, have families of their own, and remain right here in Rye.” She It became commonplace for a parent who was a Rye alumni to walk in the office, see me, and exclaim in amazement, “Oh my gosh, are you still here?” 

Deb Antonecchia retired this month, so she won’t be there when everyone returns from Christmas break, but the memories will linger on.

Deb Antonecchia

Sounds of the season rang out in the chapel at Manhattanville School where School of the Holy Child held its annual Christmas Concert December 12. Choral, instrumental, and chamber ensembles from both the middle and upper schools performed a selection of modern and traditional music from around the world, and offered gospel readings that narrated the Christmas story.

— Photo by Mark Wyville

 

As part of their annual community service project, Resurrection School students recently participated in two Midnight Runs, as they have for nearly 20 years.

At the beginning of the school year, Dale Williams, director of Midnight Run, came to the school to give all seventh and eighth graders an introduction to the program — its history and its aim to deliver food and clothing to those living on the streets of New York City and engage with them when you do.

To fund the two runs, students collected cash donations after mass at Church of Resurrection. Thanks to the generosity of the Rye community, the students were able to purchase extra clothing and supplies. The children were also very grateful for the support of Stop & Shop in Port Chester and Crisfield’s in Rye, both of which generously donated food.

On the day of the November 17 run, right after school, seventh-grade volunteers made delicious hot soup while eighth graders from Mrs. Nicastro’s class sorted, labeled, and folded clothing, and made sandwiches and toiletry bags to serve 125 people in need.

That night, students came back to school to load all the supplies, containers of warm soup, and hot chocolate into five SUVs driven by parent volunteers and accompanied by Assistant Principal Robert Forcelli and English teacher Audrey Blondel. Each vehicle was dedicated to certain items, including different size clothing, shoes, socks, and toiletry kits, as well as prepackaged food.

At 10, the Midnight Runners arrived in Manhattan. The eighth graders handed out supplies and interacted with the homeless, which is what makes the Midnight Run an extraordinary experience for all.

In one instance, after receiving the supplies he needed, one man started talking about his childhood and the fun times he’d had in his life. He seemed pleased to be able to talk with people who cared about what he was going through.

Many of the Resurrection students were humbled by the experience and have already signed up to volunteer next year.

 

 

Osborn fifth-grade elves displaying some of the many gifts collected through the school’s Holiday Angels program. The presents will be on their merry way to the Carver Center in Port Chester, which will then deliver them to 200 children who’ve been very good.

Among the elves are, front row: Ilona Salters and Cecilia Hoogstra; back row: Alex Gordon, Brayden Goodman, and Juliet Rotondo.  

Photo by Sarah Derman

 

 

On December 8, Holy Child screened “Dream, Girl”, a documentary which chronicles the lives of women entrepreneurs, which was followed by a panel discussion with local entrepreneurs. The talk was moderated by Heather Cabot, an angel investor, writer, and adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A former ABC News anchor/correspondent, Cabot reports on digital trends for a number of news and syndicated daytime talk shows. She is also the co-author of “Geek Girl Rising”, which profiles powerful women in tech.

The event was organized by Kristine Budill, Director of Holy Child’s E.E. Ford Program in Architecture, Engineering & Design for the Common Good.

The evening’s panelists included: Hadley Pollet, a fashion designer; Saskia Sorrosa, CEO of Fresh Bellies, which creates preservative-free baby foods; and Caroline Danehy, a Colgate University student and co-founder and creative director of Fair Harbor Clothing, which uses environmentally responsible materials like recycled plastic bottles and organic cotton.

Holy Child junior Lillian Mahemedi was inspired by entrepreneurs who’ve funneled their interests into making products that fill a need or solve a problem. “Saskia Sorrosa’s story was especially interesting, because when she realized that picky eaters can develop from a young age, she set out to make a baby food line that would introduce babies to broader flavors sooner.”

Her classmate, Martina Garate-Griot, was impressed by the fact that Caroline Danehy was just a senior in high school when she started Fair Harbor.

Ms. Budill was pleased to bring together Heather Cabot with the panel of women entrepreneurs. “I wanted to show our students that pursuing your passion — even at an early age — is incredibly important, but it must be combined with hard work, a willingness to network, and a desire to seek out support from those who have traveled the path before you.”

 

It is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone knows which religious service they’ll be attending and where they’ll be the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. Families are planning gatherings and feasts, pulling out old recipes and placing their orders for Yule logs, gingerbread houses, country hams, oysters, salmon tartar, sparkling wines, and chocolate anythings.

Meanwhile, everyone is trying to find that special something for that certain someone.

If you’re in the mood for a Blue Christmas, you’ll find a lot of ways to accessorize it — furry, quilted, or otherwise — at Clutch. And picture Christmas morning with mother and child cuddling in Roller Rabbit pajamas.

He will brighten up if he finds a Breitling Hurricane wristwatch in his stocking. Either of the Woodrow brothers will be happy to model one. While you’re there, any woman would take a shine to the Mikimoto hombre South Sea pearl necklace and bracelet, or the diamonds by the yard collection from Roberto Coin.

Barbour jackets have a long lineage but most of them are boxy not foxy. Not so the new Helsby model with the faux fur-trimmed hood and quilted lining. Head to Parkers — and soon — if you want to wrap yourself up in one this winter. For the girls, nothing beats a Better Sweater in oasis blue or craft pink from Patagonia.

For stylish days and nights, Angela’s is the standard bearer. In a gray Fabiana Filippi sweater and slacks outfit, along with a felt hat with fox pompons from Lola in Paris, she’ll turn heads everywhere. If she was born to be wild, she’ll be the leader of the pack in a patent leather and faux fur biker jacket from Shrimps.

Great Stuff lives up to its name. They stock just what you need for every occasion. While it’s a super sweater spot, it was an off-the-shoulder black velvet evening dress from Ulla Johnson that garnered our attention. A Herno fur-trimmed jacket will spice up a country girl’s look. Put the finishing touch on any outfit with a Faliero Sortie scarf and a navy bucket bag from Go Dash Dot.

For a multitude of whims, think Lola. Their offerings are as splendid as their windows.

Royal Jewels has a number of striking one-of-a-kind pieces designed by the talented Mr. Givelekian. In addition to those, we took a sparkle to the selection single diamonds on white, rose, or yellow gold chains. They work as a solo or many-layered look.

There’s no place like home for the holidays and we’re blessed to have two home design shops in town. This time of year, Nest stocks a host of trimmings — from ornaments to colorful table dressings. And they have the perfect tray for the skiing crowd. The Open House is the place to find that mostess hostess gift.

With book in hand, you can never go wrong. If Arcade Booksellers doesn’t have one of those “100 Best” of the year on the shelf, depend on Patrick Corcoran to get it the following day. Among his top picks for grownups are: Ron Chernow’s “Grant” biography, Lee Child’s latest Reacher thriller, “The Midnight Line”, and John Banville’s “Mrs. Osmond”, which follows where Henry James left off in “The Portrait of a Lady. The youngest of readers will take to Patrick McDonell’s “The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way)”, a romp through the animal world, and Liniers’ “GOOD NIGHT, PLANET”, in which a stuffed animal takes a leap into the unknown.

For real-life animals, who are more doers than readers, All Paws has toys and chews aplenty to make sure your pup is asleep when Santa arrives..

Vintage never goes out of style, and the place to find it is Joan’s Antiques & Jewelry. At the top of our list is a pair of Van Cleef & Arpels diamond drop earrings. Everything in her cases sparkles.

We find uncommon treasures every time we venture into York Antiques. When we asked owner Frank Rotondo about the pair of striking blue ceramic ginger jars — from Rembrandt’s blue period! — we settled down for a long winter’s chat about their provenance. We also admired some fine period furniture, Oriental rugs, bar sets, and a great variety of costume jewelry.

A book in hand, you can win a girl